Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Huge Wine Tasting Event Featuring Full Thanksgiving Spread…What a Grand Idea!

Ever witnessed an idea so fine, you wished you thought of it yourself? That’s how I felt about the Thanksgiving Wine and Food Gala put on by Doris’ Italian Market. I hope they do it again next year. As soon as the store closed for regular business hours last Friday night, the doors opened wide to about 150 wine lovers; ladies were handing out wine glasses like long stemmed roses, and everyone was encouraged to head straight to the Thanksgiving banquet built around—and because of—the 62 wines available for tasting.

As you can see from this photo, a full, traditional Thanksgiving dinner took center stage, giving guests a chance to try pairing all sorts of wines, to see what worked best.

There was a wine specialist on standby, answering all the typical FAQ, like, “turkey can be so bland. Are there any wines that bring out its flavor instead of just overwhelming it?” To which Mr. Oenophilia answered, “all of the wines here today were carefully selected to pair well with turkey and all of the classic sides for Thanksgiving Day.”

The specialist was also asked what HE would be drinking on Thanksgiving, and he motioned toward this bottle of grapes:  

The Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Sauvignon, adding that it was “just lovely.” On the wine point system it ranked close to 100, the best a wine can get. At over $30 a bottle it did hover just a little bit above the suggested $25-per-bottle-maximum a lot of Thanksgiving wine tips tell you to set. The reason caps are set fairly low is for quantity reasons. You really should have a bottle of wine for every 2 guests, which, on Thanksgiving adds up quick.

A less expensive wine that popped up as the wine specialist’s “Next Best Thing” (My Sunday Best book fans will know why I inserted a smiley face here : ) ) is the St. Michelle Indian Wells Red Blend. I tried both wines and they were—just as the specialist said, really, really, lovely and nice.     

I knew I was going to pick up a bottle of red, white and at least one dessert wine—but not until I’d tried as many as I could; these wines, besides the 2 mentioned above were the clear standouts:

  • 667 Pinot Noir (This was just so fantastic with squares of parmesan cheese that I could go on for pages….) If you’re having a round of appetizers before your big turkey meal, this is really the way to go—but it tastes great with the main event, too.
  • Morning Fog Chardonnay: Just read the description in this picture. Get in my cart, you rascal!
  • Gnarly Head Authentic Red: The labeling looks like a scene out of The Legends of Sleepy Hallow; it’s got a concentrated dark fruit flavor and comes from a city in California (Lodi) where the vineyard vines really are gnarled.
  • Dreaming Tree Everyday White: This was the driest white wine to ever cross these taste buds—and I could see a lot of people liked that at this tasting. Guests were standing at end caps in the store, balancing their holiday plates on crates stacked high with Dreaming Tree. The dry and subtly sweet nature of the wine went so well with the roasted turkey breast drowning in Doris’ gravy.
  • Frostbitten Ice Riesling: This emerged as the event favorite; the store ran out of this awesomely sweet-but not too much—wine in the first hour and, as of yesterday, is still sold out! It comes in a beautiful bottle with a snowflake on it, and is such a great pairing with all the holiday pies you’ll comes across in the next 3 months that I wholly advocate it as a stocking stuffer. Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz was the next best thing.

So, what did I learn at this event? The short answer is that Pinot Noirs, Rieslings and Chardonnays are some of the safest bets when you’re talking turkey. Give some of them a swirl (in your tasting glass!) and you’ll see what I mean.

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